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John Simmons Young

Military

Captain John S. Young from Dallas Texas was a WWII B-24D Liberator bomber command pilot with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron based at Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya in 1942-3. He flew as copilot for Col. John R. (Killer) Kane in the 98th Bombing Group's lead aircraft, 'Hail Columbia', successfully attacking and bombing their target, the Astra Romano oil refinery.

His personal plane was #41-11768 the 'Kickapoo', which he named after "Kickapoo Joy Juice" from Al Capp's "Dogpatch" cartoon. He flew many tactical bombing missions from the time he arrived in North Africa, from mid 1942 to 1943, attached to the British Army, against land targets, axis shipping in the Mediterranean, enemy ports, and port facilities in Italy, Crete, Greece, and Sicily. On one occasion, his B-24 was attacked over the Mediterranean Sea by eight German ME-109 fighter planes and fought them in a spiraling descent down to the water. After his gunners shot down four of the German fighters, the remaining four disengaged, but not until Young's B-24 was so badly shot up that he had to ditch it shortly thereafter in the ocean just off the beach at the island of Crete, which he did successfully with no casualties. He and all his crew members swam to shore, were captured by Turkish soldiers, and later released back to the British and returned to Benghazi. Although he had his 27 mission requirement to go home by the time Operation Tidal Wave was announced, Capt. Young stayed on to help plan and fight the desperate and suicidal mission, to destroy the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Capt. Young was assigned by Col. John R. Kane to fly with him in the 98th Bomb Group's lead ship, 'Grumpy', renamed 'Hail Columbia', by Col. Kane, for the mission, along with Capt. Young's regular crew, including Lt. Norman Whalen, his navigator, Lt. Harry Korger, his bombardier, and the rest of 'Kickapoo''s original crew. however, on takeoff for the Ploesti mission, 'Kickapoo', with a replacement crew from the 376th Bomb Group, had it's number four engine fail and, then, lost two more engines, while starting their second approach to land, and crashed in flames while maneuvering and attempting to land back on the field at Benghazi, killing all but two of the replacement crew, including the pilot, Lt. Robert Nespor and his copilot, Lt. John Riley. During the Ploesti mission, Col. Kane and Capt. Young successfully attacked and bombed their target, White IV, the Astra Romana refinery, even though by the time they made their approach to the target, it had already been bombed by the 93rd Bomb Group, who had done so in the confusion and chaos created by the wrong turn made by group leader, Col. Keith Compton and Gen. Ent at Targoviste. So, when Kane and Young arrived at their Initial Point, they and the bomb groups following them faced the full effects of both the German ground defenses and the fires and secondary explosions from the time-delayed fused bombs previously dropped by Addison Baker's 93rd Bomb Group onto their target, White IV, which was now a black wall of flames, boiling smoke, and explosions. However, without discussion, Kane and Young in 'Hail Columbia', Leon Johnson, and all of the the following groups turned into the inferno at full throttles, 20 feet altitude, and 210 miles per hour, to bomb their targets as planned. Col. Kane commented after the mission that it took both his and John Young's best efforts to manhandle and control the rolling, shaking, vibrating, bucking bronco that 'Hail Columbia' had become in the flames, the blinding smoke, wake turbulence from surrounding planes, and the explosions all around, over, under, and above 'Hail Columba" in the White IV area. 'Hail Columbia', like so many others, was hit numerous times and badly damaged by the deadly accurate German flak guns all around them. Their #4 engine was quickly shot out and feathered, and the #3 engine's propeller tip was also hit and vibrating badly. Then, as they were miraculously still flying, coming out of the fires of White IV, Col. Kane and Capt. Young, had to further maneuver their crippled plane defensively, not only to miss running into the converging planes from the groups still bombing White IV as a target of opportunity in the confusion of the broken mission that Tidal Wave had become, but also, now to fight off the diving attacks from the defending Romanian and German fighters waiting above them as they exited the flak area. Finally, as the fighters disengaged and flew away, and as 'Hail Columbia' and the other survivors of the 98th were successfully leaving Ploesti behind them, they and a number of other crippled straggler planes joined up and, somehow, by luck, by excellent flying, and the excellent navigating done by the group's lead navigator, Lt. Norm Whelen, they, somehow, made it all the way to and over the mountains to the Mediterranean Sea and flew on south to the British air base at Nicosia, Cyprus, where they crash landed "Hail Columbia' just at dark, just behind Walter Stewart in the B-24, 'Utah Man', and just ahead of Lt. Robert Sternfels in 'The Sandman', who landed safely behind them and gave both Kane and Young a ride back to Benghazi in his plane the next day. Col. Kane, Capt. Young, Harold Korger, Norman Whelen, Lt. Robert Sternfels, and Robert Stewart, all survived the war. John Young was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps in 1946 with the rank of Major. - John Young died in 1983.

Service

People

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane (January 5, 1907 – May 29, 1996) was a colonel in the United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force, who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, in World War II. ...

  • Harold Korger

    Military | Colonel | Bombardier | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Harold Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th AF on Capt. John Young's crew in a B-24 named 'Kickapoo'. He graduated from Bombardier School at Midland Field in 1942 and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. In February...

  • Robert Nespor

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Nespor was a B-24 command bomber pilot of the 330th BS, 93rd Bomb Group, 9th AF. He was reassigned to fly the B-24 Liberator #41-11768, 'Kickapoo', of the 344th BS, 98th BG, 9th AF for Operation Tidal Wave, the Ploesti oil refineries mission. He...

  • John Riley

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot B-24D
    Lt. John Riley lost his life, as one of the first casualties of "Operation Tidal Wave" on August 1st, 1943, one of the biggest, most important, and most daring air raids of WWII, coming in at tree top level to destroy the Germans' Romanian oil...

  • Robert Sternfels

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Bomber Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Robert Sternfels was a B-24D command bomber pilot in WWII who flew the famous B-24D bomber, 'The Sandman' on the mission Operation Tidal Wave to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, August 1, 1943. After enlisting as an Air Force pilot in...

  • Walter Stewart

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomber Command Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    Walter Stewart was a B-24 bomber command pilot in WWII in the 8th Air Force, 93rd Bombing Group. In 1941, Stewart was a 24-year-old, U.S. Army-Air Force cadet at the University of Utah. "We were pulling guns around with horses as a plane flew...

  • Norman Whalen

    Military | Major | Navigator | 98th Bomb Group
    Norman joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. Upon graduating from Navigator School in Monroe, Louisiana, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant. Norman was assigned to the 98th Bomb Group in North Africa where he participated in numerous...

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Units served with

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron


    Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic...

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

Aircraft

  • 42-40402 The Sandman

    B-24 Liberator
    Crew of "The Sandman" on the Ploesti raid: ...

  • 41-11825 'Hail Columbia' 'Grumpy' 'Little Chief Big Dog'

    B-24 Liberator
    This aircraft originally served in the 344th BS as 'HAIL COLUMBIA'. It was 344th CO Col. John R. Kane's personal aircraft until Kane became 98th BG CO and turned it over to Herman "Big-Dog" Lewis. Lewis changed the right side nose art to 'LITTLE-CHIEF...

  • 41-11768 Kickapoo

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 liberator #41-11768, 'Kickapoo', of the 344th Bombing Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. This was Capt. John S. Young's second regular aircraft after he lost his first B-24 in theater, which was shot down earlier in 1943 in an air fight...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B24Ds that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

Associated Place

Events

Event Location Date

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
17 October 2018 05:33:19 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
17 October 2018 05:30:09 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 03:38:41 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 03:24:42 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill The Dallas Morning News

Date Contributor Update
12 October 2018 04:29:26 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
12 October 2018 03:32:49 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
11 October 2018 01:03:38 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
11 October 2018 00:44:54 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2018 03:20:28 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2018 03:09:36 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
25 September 2018 16:06:15 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2018 20:20:07 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2018 20:10:46 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2018 19:37:41 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
23 September 2018 18:12:35 Kickapoo Changes to role
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
23 September 2018 18:08:59 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
23 September 2018 17:57:44 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael hill

Date Contributor Update
17 September 2018 09:27:17 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 September 2018 09:21:25 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 September 2018 09:11:23 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
01 September 2018 10:53:07 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 19:49:34 Kickapoo Changes to nickname and biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 19:44:03 Kickapoo Changes to nickname, biography and awards
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 18:37:00 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 09:14:55 Kickapoo Changes to media associations
Sources

Black Sunday-Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 08:54:26 Kickapoo Changes to service number, biography, awards and place associations
Sources

Black Sunday- Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2018 00:15:34 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2018 00:09:20 Kickapoo Changes to nickname, role, unit associations and aircraft associations
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
01 August 2018 18:20:58 Kickapoo Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, highest rank, role, person associations, unit associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

Black Sunday : Ploesti Michael Hill

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